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NETHERLANDS-AMERICAN RELAHONS DURINGTHE CIVILWAR GerlofD. Homan RELATIONS BETWEEN THE Netherlands and the United States had been friendly and cordial almost from the very beginning of American independence .1 The Dutch Republic was one ofthe first European states to recognize the American Republic, and in the 1780s Amsterdam financiers extended badly needed loans to Washington. During the Civil War the North sought to maintain friendly relations with the Netherlands—as well as other European nations—because it did not want them to extend any belligerent rights to the Southern Confederacy , either in Europe or in their colonial possessions such as the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao, or Surinam, South America.2 When the Southern war vessel Sumter was allowed to enter Willemstad, Curaçao, and Paramaribo, Surinam, the United States protested this granting ofrights. The problem was finally solved in large measure because the United States acquiesced in the Dutch position. Other problems that arose during the Civil War period concerned the invasion of the Netherlands consulate in New Orleans and the seizure ofthe Dutch brig Geziena Hillegonda . These problems also were resolved because of Washington's conciliatory policy. Although historians have noted some ofthe issues which arose between the United States and the Netherlands during the Civil War period,3 no effort has been made to explore Dutch archival and other material on these 1 On Netherlands-American relations during the nineteenth century see Peter Hoekstra, Thirty-Seven Years of Holland-American Relations, 1803 to 1840 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans-Sevensma, 1915); Gerard J. Kloos, De handelspolitieke betrekkingen tusschen Nederland en deVerenigde Staten vanAmerika, 1814-1914 (Amsterdam: n.p., 1923). 2 On U.S. foreign policy during the CivilWar see D. Jordan and E. J. Pratt, Europe and the American Civil War (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1931); D. E Crook, The North, the South, and the Powers, 1861-1865 (NewYork: Wiley, 1974). 3 See Robert F. Durden, James Sheperd Pike: Republicanism and the American Negro, 1850-1882 (Durham, N.C: Duke Univ. Press, 1957), 52ff.; Manfred C. Vernon, "General Benjamin Butler and the Dutch Consul," Civil War History 5 (1959): 263-75. Civil War History, Vol. XXXI, No. 4, ©1985 by The Kent State University Press 354CIVIL WAR HISTORY events. By using such sources this article will give a more complete account of these Civil War episodes, as well as comment briefly on the state of Dutch public opinion during this period and the importance ofthe Amsterdam money market for the Union cause. In general, the American Civil War aroused very little interest and provoked only limited debate or discussion in the Netherlands. The Civil War did cause the Netherlands to reconsider the morality of slavery in their American possessions which led to the abolition ofthis institution in 1863. But most Netherlanders disliked what they called the "Yankee Style" of democracy. Not yet having experienced a radical democratic movement, they had little appreciation for American democratic values.4 Unlike the British and French economies, the Netherlands economy was not affected much by the American Civil War. The Netherlands was still a predominantly agrarian and mercantile nation where the Industrial Revolution had barely begun. Thus the textile industry of Twente, located in the eastern part ofthe country, and that of the Province ofBrabant, one ofthe southern provinces, was still in a state ofinfancy and not hurt by the Civil War. The American minister to The Hague, James S. Pike, observed that the only segment of the Dutch economy that did feel the pinch ofthe Civil War was the gin industry of Schiedam which had lost some of its export market to the United States.5 Whatever the state of Dutch public opinion might have been, Amsterdam financiers felt confident enough by 1863 to purchase American securities. In so doing they boosted the Union cause. The Amsterdam money market was receptive to American securities in part because ofthe Union military victories but also, as Pike reported, because ofthe new and sound fiscal policies pursued by Secretary of the Treasury Salmon E Chase.8 The first major dispute between the Netherlands and the Union occurred in 1861 when a Confederate war vessel, the Sumter, entered the Bay of St. Anna, near Willemstad...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 353-364
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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